While prayers for the soul of Rabbi Balfour Brickner are certainly proper, the statement offered by an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops upon Rabbi Brickner's passing is a source of scandal that offers the faithful a most confusing view of the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion and the sanctity of life. The USCCB should immediately recant this misguided pronouncement and disassociate itself from the man who made it.
According to a Planned Parenthood web posting, "Rabbi Brickner served on the boards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the PPFA Board of Advocates, the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board, Planned Parenthood of New York City, and the New York affiliate of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice." In short, Rabbi Brickner was no friend of those who support the restoration of a culture of life.
However, Eugene Fisher, associate director of the USCCB's Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, heaped praise on Brickner in a September 2 statement, calling the rabbi "one of the greatest American religious leaders of the second half of the twentieth century."
By definition, a "great religious leader" does not abandon the least of the least – God's innocent preborn. A man of "social vision and moral courage" does not advocate abortion. Yet the USCCB published Fisher's observation that "We in the Catholic community involved in interreligious and social work have lost a great friend. And the world has lost one of its most important voices."
The Catholic Church's teachings on abortion are simple and non-debatable. Rabbi Brickner's ecumenical efforts notwithstanding, his relentless support of pro-abortion organizations cannot be overlooked – least of all by the official voice of the Catholic Church in the United States. Abortion is not an "issue" that can be balanced by good deeds in another area. Abortion is evil. It is mortal sin. It is a most grievous offense against God.
Since he clearly does not understand the gravity of the situation, Fisher must be removed from any official position with the USCCB. The USCCB communications department should be censured for disseminating such a misleading statement, and steps must be taken to ensure that those who speak for America's Catholic bishops understand that a person who supports the sin of abortion should not be given unqualified adulation.
Release issued: 19 Sept 05